Which Is The Best Social Media For You And Your Business? (Part 1)

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There’s a fantastic scene in Mad Men where they’re talking about the latest fad known as “television”. Between sipping whiskey at noon and puffing on cigarettes indoors, they casually discuss what this means to their world of print advertisement and billboard signs before dismissing it as another craze soon to pass. As the audience, we chuckle at their shortsightedness with the benefit of our 21st century hindsight.

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One of the first television advertisements, the beginning of an era.

Little did those characters know, marketing geniuses they may be, television would soon become a powerful tool. It finally gave a way to let businesses talk directly to a consumer, to advertise directly into their homes. It would grow to the point where study after study would be conducted on the effects of television to this day.

Now at the cusp of the 21st century, television is now old technology, the dotcom boom has come and gone and in its wake entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman and Kevin Systrom have reshaped how we think about social interaction, networking and interconnectivity.

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Social media is now the latest marketing platform, and those who don’t embrace it are going to be left in the dust.

But what social media platform is best for your business and your brand? Which is the best platform for you to reach your customers? SEO and content marketing aside, what’s the best way for you to be using social media?

The first in a two-part series I’m going to break down the benefits of the most popular, and upcoming, social media platforms that you could, or should, be using. Backed up with facts, research and case studies, let’s find out which glove is the best fit for you.

 

Instagram

With over 300 million global users and unfiltered content straight from user to a follower’s feed, Instagram is fast becoming the new toy that every marketing expert wants to play with. Instagram is now looking at leapfrogging over Facebook’s user base within the next three years.

For Foundr Magazine it was thanks to Instagram that led the charge for it to the must-read magazine for entrepreneurs worldwide. As of the writing of this article, Foundr’s Instagram page is at over 140 thousand followers. We’ve even posted an Instagram guide on how to grow your follower base from what content to produce, engaging your audience, and more!

How bad do you want it? Great one from @etthehiphoppreacher Double tap if you agree!

A post shared by Young Entrepreneur Magazine (@foundr) on

What makes Instagram so great for marketers is that it remains true to its simple premise of being a social photo-sharing website. In fact the only major innovations within the past 5 years is adding more filters, allowing Facebook-like tags and, most recently, adding a Vine-like video feature allowing users to create 6-15 second videos.

Forrester Research has found that users are more likely to interact with posts on Instagram than on any other social network. Despite the one-way communication method of Instagram between user and follower, the development of niche communities within Instagram allow for high user engagement with a brand.

“Our study found that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That means Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.” – Nate Elliot, Analyst at Forrester Research

A study by Simply Measured also shows that posts on Instagram have a much longer period of user engagement than any other social media platform. Posts by leading brands taking more than 19 hours to hit 50% of user comments, and the final 10% of comments coming after 19 days.

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Major brands have already taken advantage of the latest offerings on Instagram and have shown up to 200% growth in followers.

Apps like Hyperlapse and Flipagram allow businesses to take full advantage of the 15 second time limit imposed to create promotional videos.

Here’s a video explaining the different ways to use Hyperlapse!

One of the main assets of marketing on Instagram is that, unlike Facebook, all content produced by the user will go directly to the follower’s stream. Qantas wastes no time and starts off with an eye-catching content with emotional appeal.

Home is where the biggest hugs are… and the littlest ones #feelslikehome

A post shared by Qantas (@qantas) on

Conscious of the auto-play and looping feature for videos on Instagram, fashion label Stuart Weitzman takes advantage of this by creating beautiful cinemagraphs, a mixture of video and picture, to promote their brand.

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Facebook

Every business needs a Facebook page in order to succeed in the 21st century market. Facebook is, by a wide margin, the largest social media platform in the world. With the ability to integrate into other social media networks to create amazing cross channel promotions, Facebook is becoming the lynchpin of all social media marketing campaigns.

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Every customer you have, whether current or potential, most likely has a Facebook. A survey conducted by UTA Brand Studio was created in order to measure the social media platforms people can’t live without. Creating a Brand Dependence score ranging from 0 to 100 measuring how strong a connection people feel to a brand and how often they think about it. With a sample size of 2,006 US adults they found that Facebook tops the list as the social media platform that people can’t live without.

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As of November 2013 the network has over 25 million small business pages. With the top three reasons cited in a separate study for small businesses creating a Facebook page being customer acquisition, building a network of followers and increasing brand awareness.

However in the past year business pages on Facebook have been seeing a 44% decline in organic reach and finding that less than 3% of their content will be seen on anyone’s news feed, even if they’ve liked the page. The only way to negate this is to pay for advertising.

For startups they may want to stay away from Facebook as the main thrust of their social media marketing, with Facebook having made it clear that the pay-to-play rules are staying.

6496f61e-1422-476b-8fc4-03b1ba462032-620x465Don’t despair though, at the same time Facebook has become very sophisticated for social media marketers, providing live analytics and metrics for businesses in order to understand their customers better. Everything from the general location, times most active, click-through rates to your main site and more can now be accessed by social media marketers.

ck-create-custom-audience-in-power-editorNow through Website Custom Audiences you can now create custom lists, specifically you can now accurately target people who have visited your website. You can now generate specific content for people depending on what they viewed on your website, their age, location and a host of other options. So now instead of viewing your regular Facebook posts you can target individual members with posts geared specifically to them.

 

ck-facebook-audience-insights-toolUnderstand your customers with Facebook’s Audience Insights this nifty function now give you the ability to see what your audience engages with the most. The data provided lets you know how your posts are tracking, what works and what doesn’t, and allows you to optimise your overall promotional strategy.

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Use Facebook’s Power Editor to full effect. A free plugin for Google Chrome it allows for better customisation and optimisation of all your Facebook ads and gives you complete control over when your ads are being posted offers and an intuitive way to create Facebook marketing campaigns.

 

Pinterest

To some Pinterest was the social media network that came out of nowhere, but the savvy ones saw the potential of Pinterest, immediately capitalised and witnessed amazing results.

To the untrained eye Pinterest may seem like a pale imitation of Instagram as another visually based social media platform, but that wouldn’t explain why it is one of the fastest growing websites in the world. A study released by Semiocast, a social media research firm, found that there are over 70 million users on Pinterest along with explosive international growth.

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According to RJ Metrics the majority of Pinterest users are women, making up 80% of the demographic of active users. However men are now the fastest-growing demographic with more male users signing up, with a rough 50-50 split in emerging markets like India, France and Japan.

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It’s important to remember the underlying attitude that separates Pinterest from other social media platforms, and especially what makes it the perfect playground for entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Unlike Facebook users who “like and share”, or Twitter users who “tweet”, Pinterest users “pin”. See the difference? No? Let me break it down for you.

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“Liking, sharing and tweeting” on Facebook and Twitter is all about sharing information, and the occasional nugget of wisdom from Jaden Smith. The underlying mentality is that you want to show your interests to the world. “Pinning” on Pinterest is aspirational, you’re not going “I want to share this with my friends” instead you’re saying “I want that”. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great for building brand awareness and recognition, Pinterest provides a more actionable and direct approach of selling a product straight to a customer. It’s a subtle but significant difference in mentality.

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Looking at the data gathered by The Social Habit, while both women and men show vastly different motivations for going on Pinterest, with men specifically looking to actively shop and women to get creative ideas, it highlights the predominant aspirational mentality within the Pinterest community. People go on Pinterest specifically because they want something.

An advantage Pinterest has over Instagram and Twitter is that you have the ability to link directly back to your main website through your pins and hyperlinks, and no character limit on your captions. This encourages traffic to your website as well as allowing you to add more flavour to your product.

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Try out the Rich Pins as well, you can now organise your pins into 5 different categories: movie, recipe, article, product, and place making it easier for followers to pick out what content they would like to see. Brands that utilise rich pins show up to an 82% increase in repins and boosting salesPromoted Pins is Pinterest’s first major step into generating advertising revenue, it allows brands to purchase advertising and have their products be featured with associated key words and specific search terms.

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You should take advantage of Pinterest’s internal analytics dashboard, although you have to be signed up to a business account in order to access this feature. Not only can you figure out which of your pins are trending, your audience and track how popular your website is doing.

 

Twitter

 

Twitter, next to Facebook, is the most popular social network in the world, with over 255 million active users since the start of 2014. It’s also placed third on the top 5 platforms used to market businesses.

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Driving sales is no longer the leading goal for using Twitter as a marketing tool. In recent years marketers have shifted their focus to using Twitter as predominantly a tool to increase a brand’s awareness and reputation, followed by driving traffic back to a business’s main website.

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Twitter was also a huge part of Foundr’s success, leading to an increase of unique hits to 10,000 a month! We even posted a step-by-step guide on how to enlarge your Twitter following, take advantage of the advice offered and use Twitter as a way to boost your business!

Past attempts to monetize twitter have failed, with Twitter actually reporting a loss in annual earnings. However Twitter has since introduced an advertising platform for businesses where certain tweets will be promoted for a fee, so far the majority of Twitter’s profit comes from advertising revenue. 

Here’s a clip by Twitter explaining how to increase your audience engagement through the combination of using Twitter Analytics and the Quick Promote function.

Recently Twitter announced a partnership with Google in which Google’s search algorithm will now integrate popular tweets as part of mobile search results. This creates an exciting opportunity for businesses to boost their SEO organically and drive more traffic.

The greatest benefit of Twitter is in its ability to communicate, with big brands gaining a 104% spike in overall user engagement when using Twitter more frequently as part of their marketing strategy. Whether it’s finding niche communities and audience through the use of hashtags or dealing with customer complaints, Twitter has shown itself to be an efficient communicative tool.

Complaints, especially public complaints, can have a snowball effect and cause irreversible damage to a business’s reputation. While most complaints are taken privately, how a business handles the vocal minority of public grievances dictates whether or not public trust improves or is destroyed.

A study by Simply Measured has shown that businesses have been paying more attention to their customer service over Twitter, some even offering a dedicated customer service handle. By publicly solving these issues directly and efficiently, brand loyalty and overall user engagement improves dramatically.

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Twitter is an incredible networking tool, a very simple, yet often completely overlooked feature, is learning how to properly use hashtags on Twitter. Hashtags not only allow you to connect with your target audience, but it provides a valuable stream of live information about your community and its trends. Not only will you be able to keep a finger on the pulse of your niche, it also allows you to identify and connect with leading influencers and amplifiers. Use applications like SocialRank in order to find out who are your valuable followers and engaged people in your network.

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Applications like Twtpoll are useful if you’re looking to engage your audience. Create online surveys, polls and quizzes in order to engage your target market as well as gain valuable consumer information.

Twilert

Take advantage of the news gathering component of Twitter with Twilert and set up email alerts using related keywords, hashtags, and search terms in order to manage your brand’s reputation. With this Twilert you’re essentially providing yourself with a buffed up version of Google Alerts, allowing you to track your competitors, trending topics and relevant conversations.

 

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You can track your audience and optimise your content with Twitter’s inbuilt Twitter Analytics component or try using a tool like TakeOff which not only helps you schedule your tweets but figure out the best time to post them by analysing the content you post and how well it tracks with your followers, you can even use it with Instagram!

 

Conclusion

Social media has changed the way businesses think about marketing, it is now an essential tool for any business or startup that wants to survive in the 21st century. Like any other tool, make sure you pick the right one for the job.

These are only a fraction of the tools you can use with these platforms, and only a fraction of the potential of what they can do for your business. Each of them can do wonders for your business if you use them correctly, hopefully you’ve found out what you want to get out of your social media marketing through this article.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where I’ll discuss the merits of using platforms like LinkedIn, Forums, Meerkat and more!

If you’ve enjoyed this article then please like, comment and share!

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